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Future Earth Leadership

Eleanor O’Higgins and Laszlo Zsolnai’s paper “Future Earth Leadership” was published in Joanne B. Ciulla and Tobey K. Scharding (Eds.): Ethical Business Leadership in Troubling Times (Edward Elgar, 2019).

The paper starts with the observation that one of the biggest problems of humankind today is the considerable ecological overshot of its activities which transgresses planetary boundaries and results in serious and mostly irreversible ecological degradation. Based on the principle of responsibility developed by philosopher Hans Jonas the paper discusses the roles and duties of business leadership in the age of Anthropocene.

O’Higgins and Zsolnai argue that the normative concept of “Future Earth”, namely that human activities should serve the flourishing of life on Earth (including human, non-human and future life) can serve as a basis for developing a new way of leadership orientation and focus. Going beyond mainstream business thinking and practices via creating and implementing progressive business models appears to be a prime duty of responsible leadership today.

The paper uses the cases of Unilever and Patagonia to illustrate how courageous business leaders with novel vision and moral imagination transform their business organizations for serving the flourishing of life on Earth.